By now the video which apparently shows military personnel “kidnapping” a protester right off the streets of Pittsburgh yesterday has already made the internet rounds. It even made it on to the Drudge report this morning. Thus, not surprisingly the complete lack of facts surrounding what is happening in the video and its brevity have lead to wild speculation about what is really happening.
In case you missed it here it is:
Its crazy isn’t it? It really looks like the military is just picking up some guy and taking him away at first glance… but a second look reveals that the men in the video are wearing different kinds of camouflaged fatigues that many have claimed aren’t up to military standards. Plus the fact that two police officers can be seen at the tail end of the video doesn’t help clear up the situation. And, of course, this picture taken by a University of Pittsburgh photographer doesn’t help matters:
Well… I was really confused about what actually happened in this video so I decided to do a little leg work and find out for sure. First I was able to confirm, through a spokesperson, that the men in the video are NOT from the Pennsylvania National Guard who are on the ground assisting the police in crowd control but are NOT carrying weapons or making ANY arrests.
Next, given that the people in the video aren’t from the Pennsylvania National Guard, I wanted to see what the Police had to say about the video. So I contacted the Pittsburgh Police Department and they gave me the number for the G-20 Joint Information Center which handles press requests on G-20 related security questions.
The G-20 Joint Information Center, which can be reached at 412-402-7630, issued this statement to me which explains exactly what is going on in that video:
The individuals involved in the 9/24/2009 arrest which has appeared online are law enforcement officers from a multi-agency tactical response team assigned to the security operations for the G20.
It is not unusual for tactical team members to wear camouflaged fatigues. The type of fatigues the officers wear designates their unit affiliation. Prior to the arrest, the officers observed this subject vandalizing a local business. Due to the hostile nature of the crowd, officer safety and the safety of the person under arrest, the subject was immediately removed from the area.
So, yes, the video is real. However, it wasn’t the military and the guy wasn’t being kidnapped. Instead he was being arrested for vandalism.